When it comes to lifting and transporting heavy objects from one end of the construction site to the other, cranes are a pretty handy piece of construction equipment to have. We’ll be looking at the different types of mobile construction cranes that are used all over the world on various types of construction sites.

Mobile cranes are, well, mobile within a job site, which makes them ideal as a flexible piece of construction equipment to be used in all areas where necessary. They do the same job as any other permanent crane structure, but are easier to move around, quicker to use and require minimal setup. This makes them more desirable in the construction industry, which is why it’s good to know about the different mobile crane types.

Truck mounted cranes

Essentially, mobile cranes are truck mounted cranes. And that means the equipment has an upper (the crane) and lower (semi-truck and cab/operating booth) section. There are different sizes and types of cranes that can be mounted on these trucks which all depends on the project and job site environment.

Smaller cranes are perfect for smaller sites where, before, a crane might not have been an option. That scenario would require more workers and effort in the department of transporting materials and equipment which, therefore, leads to higher overall costs in construction. Truck mounted cranes are quicker to set up as well and easier to operate for anyone with the correct licence and experience.

Telescopic crawler cranes

Telescopic cranes have an adjustable boom through the various tubes fitted inside of it that allow for a hydraulics system. They, along with all mobile cranes, are quick to set up and easily suit many construction tasks and environments.

Telescopic cranes can be fitted to both truck vehicles with wheels or with crawlers. Crawlers are the more popular option as they are more stable on the ground. And when we talk about crawlers, we’re talking about the fact that it moves on tracks and not wheels. This might make them slow, but crawlers make up for it by being able to work off-road and over uneven surfaces. Which means they can be used on practically any job site. They also don’t require outriggers to stabilise during operation.

Having the telescopic boom on a crawler is a best of both scenarios. Telescopic crawler cranes have are flexible, stable and perfectly capable of precise picking up, carrying and transporting heavy construction materials or equipment.

Rough terrain cranes

Rough terrain cranes have four large rubber tyres set for 4×4-off-road-wheel drive. There are different steering modes, namely front-wheel, all-wheel centric and all-wheel crabbing which allow the operator to easily manoeuvre over various types of terrain. These cranes have some of the best steering, traction control and stability and are usually stabilised with outriggers when in operation.

With rough terrain cranes, there are very few surfaces deemed too tricky to work on. And with that in mind, it would be important to make sure that all rough terrain crane operators are qualified for the job and understand the different steering options in order to efficiently make use of the off-road benefits.

All terrain cranes

For those who wonder what the difference between an all terrain and rough terrain crane is, wonder no more. For starters, all terrain cranes have more tyres than a rough terrain crane. Between 10 and 18 more tyres to give a better idea of the scale all terrain cranes come in. Another difference (the one relating to the names) is that unlike rough terrain cranes, all terrain cranes can operate and drive on public roads as well as off-roads.

All terrain cranes are capable of driving at 80km/h and all those wheels are there to act as stabilisers and help with all-wheel drive manoeuvrability.

How to choose the right crane for the job

When it comes to investing in mobile construction cranes, there clearly are a variety of options that each have their own advantages. And those cranes listed above aren’t even all the types of construction cranes out there. Those are just the popular and more versatile ones that people tend to work with. So, how does one choose the right crane for the job?

Here’s what needs to be considered when browsing for mobile cranes:

  • What will the weight of the loads be that will be transported by the crane?
  • What type of terrain will be at the construction site?
  • Is the size of the construction site, in relation to the size of the crane, enough space for the crane to operate?
  • Are there any specifics regarding the construction project that need to be addressed? For example, there are harbour cranes, aerial cranes and railroad cranes for those respective construction projects.
  • What will the cost of crane operation be in relation to the client’s budget?